Lemon Cheesecake Soufflé

  The one that almost got away!

The one that almost got away!

Fifty years ago I tasted a cheese cake that was almost as light and airy as whipped cream. I never forgot it. The bakery was in Princeton, NJ and when I moved back to New York City I actually took a bus ride to the bakery trying to persuade them to give me the recipe. They promised they would send it but never did. Finally, all these years later, I figured it out. Instead of adding the whole eggs to the cream cheese batter, I separated them and whipped the egg whites with the sugar Italian meringue style. I added a little extra sugar to compensate for the sugar syrup that sticks to the sides of the pot.

The resulting cake is so fluffy it makes a sound when you put a fork to it.

 Serves: 10 to 12

Oven Temperature: 350˚F/175˚C

Baking Time: 50 minutes (55 minutes if using a silicone pan instead of aluminum foil for the water bath), plus 1 hour with the oven off

Plan Ahead Make the cheesecake at least 1 day before serving.

 Equipment One 9 by 3 or 2-3/4 inch high springform pan, lightly coated with nonstick cooking spray, set in a slightly larger silicone pan or wrapped with a double layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil to prevent seepage; A 12 inch cake pan or roasting pan to serve as a water bath

  Preheat the Oven   * Twenty minutes or longer before baking, set an oven rack in the lower third of the oven. Set the oven at 350˚F/175˚C.    Mise en Place   * One hour ahead, into the bowl of a stand mixer, place the cream cheese, cornstarch, and 25 grams/2 tablespoons of the sugar at cool room temperature (65˚ to 70˚F/19˚ to 21˚C).  * Into another 1 cup measure with a spout, place the lemon zest, and weigh or measure the lemon juice. Cover with plastic wrap.  * If using a cake base, trim it to size and set it on the bottom of the pan. If using lady fingers, cut off the rounded edges and arrange them on the bottom of the pan, placing them rounded crust flat sides down and cutting or tearing smaller pieces to fit into any gaps. Cover the pan with plastic wrap while making the filling.   Make the Batter   1) Into two small containers, separate the yolks and the whites.  2) Attach the whisk beater and beat the cream cheese mixture on medium-high speed until very smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice, about 3 minutes.  3) Gradually beat in the egg yolks and continue beating until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  4) On medium-low speed add the lemon zest, lemon juice, vanilla, and salt and beat until incorporated.  5) Add the sour cream and continue beating just until fully blended, 20 to 30 seconds. Detach the whisk beater and use it to reach down and whisk in any mixture that has settled to the bottom of the bowl.  6) Remove and wash, rinse, and dry the whisk beater to remove any trace of oil. If you do not have a second mixer bowl, scrape this mixture into a large bowl and thoroughly wash, rinse, and dry the mixer bowl and whisk beater to remove any trace of oil.

Preheat the Oven

* Twenty minutes or longer before baking, set an oven rack in the lower third of the oven. Set the oven at 350˚F/175˚C.

 Mise en Place

* One hour ahead, into the bowl of a stand mixer, place the cream cheese, cornstarch, and 25 grams/2 tablespoons of the sugar at cool room temperature (65˚ to 70˚F/19˚ to 21˚C).

* Into another 1 cup measure with a spout, place the lemon zest, and weigh or measure the lemon juice. Cover with plastic wrap.

* If using a cake base, trim it to size and set it on the bottom of the pan. If using lady fingers, cut off the rounded edges and arrange them on the bottom of the pan, placing them rounded crust flat sides down and cutting or tearing smaller pieces to fit into any gaps. Cover the pan with plastic wrap while making the filling.

Make the Batter

1) Into two small containers, separate the yolks and the whites.

2) Attach the whisk beater and beat the cream cheese mixture on medium-high speed until very smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice, about 3 minutes.

3) Gradually beat in the egg yolks and continue beating until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

4) On medium-low speed add the lemon zest, lemon juice, vanilla, and salt and beat until incorporated.

5) Add the sour cream and continue beating just until fully blended, 20 to 30 seconds. Detach the whisk beater and use it to reach down and whisk in any mixture that has settled to the bottom of the bowl.

6) Remove and wash, rinse, and dry the whisk beater to remove any trace of oil. If you do not have a second mixer bowl, scrape this mixture into a large bowl and thoroughly wash, rinse, and dry the mixer bowl and whisk beater to remove any trace of oil.

  Mise en Place   * Have ready a 1 cup glass measure with a spout (not coated with nonstick cooking spray) near the cooktop.    *  Into the bowl of a stand mixer, weigh or measure the egg whites.     1) In a small heavy saucepan, preferably nonstick and with a spout, stir together the remaining 200 grams/1 cup of sugar and the water until the sugar is completely moistened. Cook on medium heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves and the syrup is bubbling. Stop stirring and turn down the heat to the lowest setting. (If using an electric cooktop, remove from the heat.)  2) Attach the whisk beater and beat the egg whites on medium-high speed just until almost stiff peaks form when the beater is raised slowly (they should curve slightly).  3) Increase the heat on the cooktop and boil the syrup until an instant-read thermometer registers 248˚ to 250˚F/120˚C.   Immediately pour the syrup into the glass measure to stop the cooking.  4) With the mixer off, pour a small amount of syrup over the whites. Immediately beat on high speed for 5 seconds. Stop the mixer and add one-third of the syrup. Beat on high speed for 5 seconds. Add the remaining syrup in two parts, with the mixer off between additions. For the last addition, use a silicone scraper to remove the syrup clinging to the glass measure and scrape it against the beater.  5) Continue beating on medium speed for 2 minutes or until the outside of the bowl is no longer hot to the touch. Then use the whisk beater to fold it into the batter. Use a silicone spatula to reach to the bottom of the bowl to finish folding.  6) Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface evenly.   Bake the Cheesecake   7) Set the pan into the larger pan and surround it with 1 inch of very hot water. Add about 1 teaspoon of cream of tartar to the water and stir to dissolve it. (This will prevent discoloration of the aluminum pan.) Bake for 25 minutes. For even baking, rotate the pan halfway around. Continue baking for 25 minutes (30 minutes if using the silicone pan). Turn off the oven without opening the door and let the cake cool for 1 hour. When moved the center will jiggle slightly. (Alternatively, bake for 1 hour plus 10 minutes until the center tests 147°F. The center bounces back when lightly pressed and it jiggles even in the center.) The edges will have little cracks and be browned.   Cool and Chill the Cheesecake   7) Remove the pan from the water bath but leave the silicone pan or foil in place to contain any liquid that may seep from the cake. Set it on a wire rack to cool to room temperature or just warm, 1 to 2 hours. To absorb condensation, place a paper towel, curved side down, over the pan with the ends overhanging. Place an inverted plate, larger than the springform pan, on top of the paper towel.  8) Refrigerate the cheesecake for 8 hours or overnight, still covered with the paper towel and plate.   Unmold the Cheesecake   9) Remove the plate and paper towel. Use a small propane torch or wipe the sides of the pan several times with a towel that has been run under hot water and wrung out. Release the sides of the springform pan. If the sides of the cheesecake are uneven, run a small metal spatula under hot water and use it to smooth them.  10) This delicate cake is best left on the pan bottom of the springform.  11) Cut with a wet knife that has been run under hot water between each slice and wiped clean with a paper towel.   Store  Airtight: refrigerated, 3 days; do not freeze, as the texture will become less smooth.   

Mise en Place

* Have ready a 1 cup glass measure with a spout (not coated with nonstick cooking spray) near the cooktop.

 * Into the bowl of a stand mixer, weigh or measure the egg whites.

 1) In a small heavy saucepan, preferably nonstick and with a spout, stir together the remaining 200 grams/1 cup of sugar and the water until the sugar is completely moistened. Cook on medium heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves and the syrup is bubbling. Stop stirring and turn down the heat to the lowest setting. (If using an electric cooktop, remove from the heat.)

2) Attach the whisk beater and beat the egg whites on medium-high speed just until almost stiff peaks form when the beater is raised slowly (they should curve slightly).

3) Increase the heat on the cooktop and boil the syrup until an instant-read thermometer registers 248˚ to 250˚F/120˚C. Immediately pour the syrup into the glass measure to stop the cooking.

4) With the mixer off, pour a small amount of syrup over the whites. Immediately beat on high speed for 5 seconds. Stop the mixer and add one-third of the syrup. Beat on high speed for 5 seconds. Add the remaining syrup in two parts, with the mixer off between additions. For the last addition, use a silicone scraper to remove the syrup clinging to the glass measure and scrape it against the beater.

5) Continue beating on medium speed for 2 minutes or until the outside of the bowl is no longer hot to the touch. Then use the whisk beater to fold it into the batter. Use a silicone spatula to reach to the bottom of the bowl to finish folding.

6) Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface evenly.

Bake the Cheesecake

7) Set the pan into the larger pan and surround it with 1 inch of very hot water. Add about 1 teaspoon of cream of tartar to the water and stir to dissolve it. (This will prevent discoloration of the aluminum pan.) Bake for 25 minutes. For even baking, rotate the pan halfway around. Continue baking for 25 minutes (30 minutes if using the silicone pan). Turn off the oven without opening the door and let the cake cool for 1 hour. When moved the center will jiggle slightly. (Alternatively, bake for 1 hour plus 10 minutes until the center tests 147°F. The center bounces back when lightly pressed and it jiggles even in the center.) The edges will have little cracks and be browned.

Cool and Chill the Cheesecake

7) Remove the pan from the water bath but leave the silicone pan or foil in place to contain any liquid that may seep from the cake. Set it on a wire rack to cool to room temperature or just warm, 1 to 2 hours. To absorb condensation, place a paper towel, curved side down, over the pan with the ends overhanging. Place an inverted plate, larger than the springform pan, on top of the paper towel.

8) Refrigerate the cheesecake for 8 hours or overnight, still covered with the paper towel and plate.

Unmold the Cheesecake

9) Remove the plate and paper towel. Use a small propane torch or wipe the sides of the pan several times with a towel that has been run under hot water and wrung out. Release the sides of the springform pan. If the sides of the cheesecake are uneven, run a small metal spatula under hot water and use it to smooth them.

10) This delicate cake is best left on the pan bottom of the springform.

11) Cut with a wet knife that has been run under hot water between each slice and wiped clean with a paper towel.

Store Airtight: refrigerated, 3 days; do not freeze, as the texture will become less smooth.

 

Neoclassic Mousseline Buttercream Has Arrived

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Our queen of buttercreams has a new version. A couple of days ago, Jean asked on our Ask a Question page if the neoclassic method used for the neoclassic buttercream could also be implemented for the mousseline buttercream. This method eliminated the need for a temperature reading by replacing the sugar and water mixture with a sugar and corn syrup mixture. When the mixture reaches a full boil it automatically is the perfect temperature for heating the egg yolks.

 

I first offered neoclassic buttercream in The Cake Bible 30 years ago and in the years following, I had not found a favorable result using the same method for Italian meringue. But when testing recipes for Rose’s Baking Basics I was inspired to revisit the technique, altering the ratio of sugar to corn syrup and it worked.
Thanks to Jean’s request we decided to give the new neoclassic Italian meringue a try for the mousseline and after two tests: Eureka!
To prevent the mousseline from becoming curdled, the temperature range for combining the butter and egg white meringue is a couple of degrees higher than for my classic mousseline. This is because it uses less egg white for more strength, and also, while the temperate of the syrup is close to that of the classic one, it is a little lower and therefore a little less stable. Also, we found it beneficial to increase the amount of sugar and corn syrup slightly, compared to the new neoclassic Italian meringue because this also increases stability needed for incorporating butter into it.

Mousseline

Makes: 450 grams/2-1/4 cups (Double the recipe for two 9 inch layer cakes or one 9 by 13 inch sheet cake.)

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Mise en Place

* 30 minutes to 1 hour ahead, set the butter on the counter at cool room temperature. The butter needs to be 65˚ to 68˚F/19˚ to 20˚C.

* 30 minutes to 1 hour ahead, in a small bowl, weigh or measure the egg whites, and add the cream of tartar. Cover with plastic wrap.

* Have ready a 1 cup/237 ml glass measure with a spout by the cooktop.

Make the Mousseline

1) In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter on medium-high speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Set it aside in a cool place (no higher than 70˚F/21˚C).

2) In a small heavy saucepan, preferably with a nonstick lining, with a spout, stir together the sugar and corn syrup until all of the sugar is moistened. Heat on medium, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture begins to simmer. Stop stirring and reduce the heat to low. (On an electric range remove the pan from the heat.)

3) With a handheld mixer, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar on medium-low speed until foamy. Raise the speed to high and beat until stiff peaks form when the beater is raised slowly.

4) Increase the heat until the sugar and corn syrup has reached a rolling boil with the surface covered with large bubbles. Immediately pour the syrup into the glass measure to stop the cooking.

5) Beat the syrup into the egg whites in a steady stream. Don't allow the syrup to fall on the beaters or they will spin it onto the sides of the bowl. Use a silicone scraper to remove the syrup clinging to the measure and scrape it onto the bottoms of the beaters. 

6) Lower the speed to medium and continue beating for up to two minutes. Refrigerate the meringue for 5 to 10 minutes, until 72˚F/23˚C. Whisk it after the first 5 minutes to test and equalize the temperature.

7) Set the mixer bowl containing the butter in the stand and attach the whisk beater. Beat the butter on medium-high speed for about 3 minutes, or until it lightens in color and is between 70˚F/21˚C and 72˚F/23˚C.

8) Confirm that both the creamed butter and the meringue are both within 2 degrees of each other.

Scrape the meringue into the butter and beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Beat for about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. At first the mixture will look slightly curdled. Continue beating until it becomes a uniform, creamy texture.

If it starts watering out or continues to be curdled, check the temperature.

It should feel cool and be no lower than 70˚F/21˚C, no higher than 73˚F/23˚C. If too warm, set it in a bowl of ice water, stirring gently to chill it down before continuing to beat the buttercream by hand until smooth. If in doubt, it is best to remove a small amount and try beating it either chilling or heating it slightly.

If too cool, suspend the bowl over a pan of very hot water (do not let the bottom of the bowl touch the water) and heat for just a few seconds, stirring vigorously when the mixture just starts to melt slightly at the edges. Dip the bottom of the bowl in a larger bowl of ice water for a few seconds to cool it. Remove the bowl from the ice water and beat the buttercream by hand until smooth.

If the mixture breaks down and will not come together, it can still be rescued. See our posting: When Tragedy Strikes Your Mousseline Buttercream.

9) Gradually beat in the vanilla and optional liqueur.

Store Airtight: room temperature, 1 day; refrigerated, 3 days; frozen, 2 months.

 Notes

* High fat butter is a great help for decreasing any initial curdling of the mousseline.
* It is best to avoid making meringue on humid days.
* The mixer bowl and beater must be entirely free of any fat, which includes oil or egg yolk.
* If doubling the recipe it’s fine to use a stand mixer for the egg whites if you have a second bowl. Add the heated sugar and corn syrup mixture in 3 parts with the mixer off. Then beat each part for several seconds and scrape the sides of the bowl between each addition. Use a silicone spatula to remove the syrup clinging to the measure and scrape it onto the bottoms of the beater.  When pouring, be sure to avoid letting the syrup hit the beaters so that it doesn’t spin it onto the sides of the bowl.
* The mousseline becomes spongy and fluffy on standing which is lovely once on the cake. If you don’t use it right away, whisk it lightly by hand to maintain a silky texture before apply it to the cake. Do not, however, rebeat chilled mousseline until it has reached 72˚ to 74˚F/23˚C to prevent it from breaking down.

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Gâteau Très Orange

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When I was growing up, I was spoiled by my grandmother who squeezed fresh orange juice for breakfast every single day. Pasteurized orange juice from a container or bottle paled by comparison.

I have always loved the flavor of orange, almost as much as lemon which is my top favorite, but never more so than when I started making recipes from Jamie Schler’s new book Orange Appeal. Her book, focusing on many ways both sweet and savory, inspired me to create this cake that is the most orangey cake in my repertoire.

Arriving at the precise amount of orange zest to orange oil was a delicate balance. Too much orange oil and it becomes almost petrol in flavor. For us, these amounts work perfectly. You can vary them according to your own tastebuds.

Serves: 12 to 14

Oven Temperature: 350˚F/175˚C

Baking Time: 50 to 60 minutes

Equipment One 10 cup metal fluted tube pan, coated with baking spray with flour

 Batter

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Preheat the Oven

* Twenty minutes or longer before baking, set an oven rack in the lower third of the oven.

* Set the oven at 350˚F/175˚C.

 Set Up for Ingredients (Mise en Place)

* 30 minutes to 1 hour ahead set the butter and eggs on the counter at room temperature (65˚ to 75˚F/19˚ to 23˚C).

* With dish washing liquid, wash, rinse, and dry the oranges and zest them (see Notes).

Make the Batter 

1) Into a 2 cup/500 ml glass measure with a spout, weigh or measure the egg yolks. Add 60 grams/1/4 cup of the sour cream, the orange oil, and vanilla, and whisk lightly until combined.

2) In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the flat beater, add the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and orange zest and mix on low speed for 30 seconds.

3) Add the butter and the remaining 122 grams of sour cream. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Raise the speed to medium and beat for 1-1/2 minutes to aerate and develop the cake's structure. The mixture will lighten in color and texture. Scrape down the sides.

4) Starting on low speed, gradually add the egg mixture in 2 parts, beating on medium speed for 30 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients smoothly.

5) Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, and smooth the surface evenly.

 Bake the Cake

6) Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted near the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed. The cake should start to shrink from the sides of the pan only after removal from the oven. Rotate the cake halfway around after the first 40 minutes of baking.

 Shortly before the cake is finished baking, make the orange syrup.

Orange Syrup

Makes: 102 grams/6-1/2 tablespoons/96 ml

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1) Reduce the orange juice by about 2/3 (see Notes). Then stir in the sugar until dissolved. Add the orange oil. Cover it and set it aside.

Apply the Syrup and Cool the Cake

2) As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, place the pan on a rack, poke the cake all over with a wire cake tester, and brush it with about one-third (34 grams/2 tablespoons/30 ml) of the syrup. Cool the cake in the pan for 15 minutes. Invert the cake onto a serving plate.

3) Brush the top and sides of the cake with the remaining syrup. Cover with plastic wrap and cool completely.

 Store Airtight: room temperature, 3 days; refrigerated, 5 days; frozen, 2 months.

 Notes

* The zest incorporates most evenly into the batter if set on a piece of parchment and allowed to dry for several hours. It then can be frozen for several months.

* When Seville oranges are in season the juice gives a more intense orange flavor to the syrup so the orange oil can be omitted. Do not use the Seville orange zest as it is very bitter unless candied in marmalade. Blood orange zest, however is a great alternative.

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* The best way to reduce the orange juice is to pour it into a 4 cup/1 liter glass measure with a spout that has been lightly coated with nonstick cooking spray. Microwave it on high power, stirring every 30 seconds to prevent air bubbles, which would cause the juice to burst out of the container. This will take about 15 minutes. Alternatively you can reduce the orange juice on the cooktop, stirring constantly.

* You can replace the reduced orange juice with an equal amount of frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed.

To see the posting on this marvelous book click on the link below

Orange Appeal

A Special Cranberry Lemon Holiday Cake

  Chef Stephen Mallina adjusting the croquembouch at the Christmas dessert buffet

Chef Stephen Mallina adjusting the croquembouch at the Christmas dessert buffet

It has become a cherished tradition to go into New York in the month of December to join my dear long-time friend Holly Arnold Kinney, her family, and women friends, for a delightful holiday luncheon at the Doubles Club (hidden within the Sherry Netherland Hotel on Fifth Avenue and 59th Street).

Holly owns the Fort Restaurant in the foothills of Denver CO and her husband Jeremy was one of the early members during the construction of the Club. Doubles was opened by Joe Norban in 1976 and continues to be run by his daughter Wendy Carduner.

The special Christmas lunch is served by impeccably formal but friendly wait staff but the lavish array of desserts is served buffet style by executive chef Stephen Mellina and his staff.

This December, when Holly introduced me to the chef, I was blown away to discover that he already knew me from my books. I was also amazed at how wonderful the desserts were—the croquembouche with hairline crisp cream puffs, the silkiest of chocolate mousses, the raspberry dacquoise, but it was the deceptively simple cranberry lemon pound cake that so intrigued me that I called Mrs. Carduner, who put me in touch with chef Mellina, who then introduced me to the pastry chef Fannie Agri. Inevitably we had a million things in common and couldn’t stop talking. To my astonishment, the cake was my very own favorite Lemon Poppy Seed Pound Cake from The Cake Bible, with dried cranberries replacing the poppy seeds.

Of course chef Fannie makes this cake in large quantity so I tried three different variations for a single loaf. The challenge was getting the deliciously zingy cranberries to suspend evenly in the batter without sinking to the bottom. Trial one, I ground the cranberries with the sugar and they dispersed evenly but lost their character. Trial two I soaked the quartered cranberries for 30 minutes, using the soaking water to replace the milk. All the cranberries sank resolutely to the bottom. Trial 3 was the winner. I tried processing the cranberries with some of the flour to help them suspend, but though a few ground up into cranberry dust, most eluded the sharp blades so I ended up chopping them with a chef’s knife.

 The two test samples with Fannie's original on the buffet table.

The two test samples with Fannie's original on the buffet table.

Both chefs tasted the two samples. And Chef Fannie brought her Cake Bible for me to sign. I was delighted to see it had experienced years of good use1

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Woody and I also enjoyed a glorious buffet lunch, complements of chef Mallina.

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  The Holiday Dessert Buffet

The Holiday Dessert Buffet

I have found a new home at Doubles thanks to the exquisite ambiance and extraordinarily warm welcome from all.

Here’s the recipe just in time for New Year’s Eve!

Cranberry Lemon Pound Cake

Oven Temperature: 350˚F/175˚C
Baking Time: 60 to 70 minutes

Special Equipment One 8-1/2 by 4-1/2 inch 6 cup loaf pan, lightly coated with baking spray with flour, preferably Baker’s Joy

Preheat the Oven
* Thirty minutes or longer before baking, set an oven rack in the lower third of the oven.
*Set the oven at 350˚F/175˚C.

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In a 2 cup or larger glass measure with a spout, lightly whisk together the milk, eggs, and vanilla.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add all but 2 tablespoons of the flour, the sugar, baking powder and salt.

With a large chefs knife, chop together the flour and dried cranberries until none of the pieces is larger than 1/4 inch.

Attached the flat beater and mix the flour mixture on low speed for 30 seconds.

Add the softened butter and half the egg mixture. Start on low speed until all the dry ingredients are moistened. Then raise the speed to medium and beat for 1 minute.

Add the remaining egg mixture in two parts, beating for 20 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure.

Add the chopped cranberries and any remaining loose flour and with a silicone spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl and stir in the cranberries, reaching to the bottom of the bowl.

Scrape the mixture into the loaf pan and bake for 30 minutes. Tent it loosely with aluminum foil and continue baking for 30 to 40 minutes or until a wooden skewer comes out clean with only a few dry crumbs sticking to it.

While the cake is baking, prepare the lemon syrup.

Lemon Syrup

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In a 1 cup glass measure with a spout stir together all the ingredients and microwave for about 40 seconds, stirring once or twice, until the sugar is dissolved.

Cover it with plastic wrap and set it aside.

When the cake is baked, set the pan on a wire rack and use a wooden skewer to poke holes all over the top.

Brush the top of the cake with half the syrup. Allow the cake to cool for 10 minutes and unmold it onto a second rack that has been lightly coated with nonstick cooking spray.

Brush all sides and bottom with the remaining syrup. Then reinvert the cake onto a wire rack that is topped with a large piece of plastic wrap. Allow the cake to cool completely. Then wrap it with the plastic wrap and allow it to sit for a minimum of 6 hours preferably overnight.

Store Airtight: room temperature, 3 days; refrigerated, 1 week; frozen, 3 months.

Hong Kong Sponge Cake--an Amazing Technique

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Having fallen in love with Linh Trang's Milk Bread and her beautifully crafted video, I decided to explore some of her other videos and was intrigued by her unique method of making sponge cake without a tube pan. Normally a cake of this type will dip in the center without a center tube to support it. Linh Trang explained how she created this cake to prevent dipping: In Vietnam, people think that is a terrible failure. So a large part of my time in the kitchen was used to find out how to have a soft, cottony sponge cake that has a dome in the end :-) A very helpful tip that I learnt recently is to drop the mold onto the counter from a level of about 7 inches) like what I did in this chiffon video, at 5.33). I am not sure 100% but I guess the shocks help to ventilate and release the steam better, and this trick works like magic to me. After dropping the mold 3 - 4 times, we can unmold the cake (if it's not baked in a tube pan) and let it cool on a rack.

The resulting sponge cake is extraordinarily tender, moist, and velvety and not at all overly sweet. I brought half the cake to my dentist, Dr. Kellen Mori, and learned coincidentally that her 6 year old daughter Olivia had just expressed a yearning for strawberry shortcake for breakfast. All that was needed was some lightly sweetened whipped cream and strawberries and apparently it was a great success! Olivia even made a video expressing what she thought a "famous baker" should be. Essentially she said that one should not be concerned about fame or money but rather about having fun, and feeding and making people happy. She certainly made me happy! Linh Trang's video demonstrates exactly how to make this cake and she has given me permission to offer the recipe to you.

Here is the recipe:

One 8 x 2-1/2 to 3 inch pan, bottom lined with parchment (do not grease the sides)
(Note the baked cake was 2 inches at the sides and 2-1/4 inches domed so a 2 inch pan might work)

4 to 5 egg yolks: 76 grams

superfine sugar: 20 grams

milk: 40 ml (3 Tablespoons)

fine to use orange juice or lemon juice instead

oil: 30 ml (2 Tablespoons)

vanilla: 1/2 teaspoon

all-purpose flour: 50 grams (I used bleached but she thinks her flour was unbleached)

cornstarch: 50 grams (for the best texture I recommend organic such as Rumford)

4 egg whites: 120 grams

cream of tartar: 1/4 teaspoon

(I used 1/2 t but Linh Trang said it is not good quality in

Vietnam so more will be too tangy)

superfine sugar, sifted: 70 grams

In a medium bowl, whisk together the yolks, sugar, milk, oil, and vanilla until very smooth. Add the flour/cornstarch through a strainer and whisk until evenly incorporated.

Beat meringue on low speed until foamy. Gradually add the sugar and continue on high speed until soft peaks. Then lower speed to medium for about 2 minutes until stiff peaks to give it more stability. Whisk 1/3 of the meringue into the yolk mixture. Then use a spatula to fold in the meringue, adding it in two parts.

Smooth the surface. Tap the pan 3 times on the counter to release any large air bubbles. Bake toward lower rack so not too close to top heat at 300°F/150˚C 40 to 50 minutes (slow rise=less likelihood of falling) until it springs back.

Drop the pan 3 times to release steam and unmold right away. Remove parchment and cool top-side-up on a raised rack.

My Favorite Passover Flourless Pecan Torte

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Sean Nutley, owner of the wonderful cookware shop Blue Cashew, in Rhinebeck, New York, made this fabulous version of what was my single layer torte from Rose's Heavenly Cakes--cousin Sybil's Passover Pecan Torte. It has become my new standard and what I will be making for this Passover. (Sadly, Sybil Zashin passed away several months ago. But the memory of this lovely woman remains.) During Passover, tradition dictates that flour must not be eaten. The nuts in this torte replace the flour which not only results in a delicious flavor but is also suitable for the gluten intolerant. No need to reserve it just for Passover--this torte would serve as a festive dessert for any holiday or special event.

Note:: The following posting will be a series of step-by-step photos for another flourless nut torte which uses walnuts instead of pecans and includes chocolate, but the technique is the same.

Serves : 8 to 10 if one layer, 16 to 24 if two layers

Oven Temperature: 350˚F/175˚C
Baking Time: 30 to 40 minutes
Make this batter twice if planning to make a two layer cake. Special Equipment One 9-1/2 by 2-1/2 to 3-inch springform pan, bottom coated with shortening, topped with a parchment round. Do not coat sides.

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Preheat the Oven Twenty minutes or longer before baking, set oven racks at the middle level and preheat the oven to 350F/175C.

Divide the Sugar In a small bowl, place 1/4 cup of the sugar for the nuts. In another small bowl, place 2 tablespoons of the sugar for the meringue. In the bowl of a stand mixer, place the remaining 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar.

Toast and Grind the Pecans Spread the pecans evenly on a baking sheet and bake for about 7 minutes to enhance their flavor. Stir once or twice to ensure even toasting and avoid overbrowning. Cool completely. In a food Processor, pulse the pecans with the 1/4 cup sugar and espresso powder, if using, in long bursts until very fine. Stop before the pecans start becoming oil or pasty. Empty them into a medium bowl.

Make the Yolk Mixture In the bowl of the stand mixer fitted with the whisk beater, add the yolks to the sugar and beat on high speed for 5 minutes, or until very thick and fluffy and when the beater is raised the mixture falls in ribbons. Detach the whisk from the mixer and use it to fold the pecan mixture and the coffee extract, if using,into the batter until evenly mixed. If you don't have a second mixer bowl, scrape this mixture into a large bowl and thoroughly wash, rinse, and dry the mixer bowl and whisk beater to remove any trace of oil.

Beat the Egg Whites into a Stiff Meringue In the bowl of the stand mixer fitted with the whisk beater, beat the egg whites (and cream of tartar if using) on medium speed until foamy. Raise the speed to medium-high and beat until soft peaks form when the beater is raised. Gradually beat in the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and beat until stiff peaks for when the whisk is raised slowly. If not using cream of tartar, stop beating just before stiff peaks to prevent overbeating The peaks should curve over slightly when the beater is raised.

Complete the Batter Add about one-quarter of the meringue to the yolk mixture and, with a large balloon whisk or the whisk beater, fold until completely incorporated.Gently fold in the remaining meringue in three parts. For the last addition, be sure there are no white streaks of meringue in the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and, using a small offset spatula or silicone spatula, spread the surface evenly. The batter will fill the pan half full.

Bake the Cake Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the cake is springy to the touch when pressed very lightly in the center. An instant read thermometer will read 185F/85C. In a 2-1/2 inch high pan, the batter will have risen to the top of the pan.

Cool and Unmold the Cake Immediately invert the cake onto a wire rack that has been coated lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Leave it undisturbed until the pan feels completely cool to the touch. Reinvert the pan. Run a small metal spatula between the sides of the pan and the cake, pressing firmly against the pan, and remove the sides of the pan. Invert the cake onto a flat plate and remove the pan bottom and parchment. Reinvert it onto a serving plate. There will be a 3/8 depression to fill with coffee cream.

Coffee Whipped Cream
Double if making a two layer cake. Makes: 2 cups/9 ounces/256 grams

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Make the Coffee Cream In a mixing bowl, combine the cream, sugar, and espresso powder, if using, and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes. (Chill the mixer's beaters alongside the bowl.) In a 1 cup heatproof glass cup, place the water and gelatin. Allow the mixture to soften for 5 minutes. Set the cup in a pan of simmering water and stir occasionally until the gelatin is dissolved. (This can be done in a microwave, stirring once or twice.) Remove the cup from the water and cool the mixture to room temperature, about 7 minutes. (It can be held longer but should be covered to prevent evaporation.) the gelatin must be liquid but not warm when added to the cream.

Whip the cream mixture, starting on low speed, gradually raising the speed to medium-high as it thickens, just until traces of the beater marks begin to show distinctly. Add the gelatin mixture in a steady stream, whipped constantly. Add the vanilla and coffee extract, if not using the espresso powder, and whip just until stiff peaks form when the eater is raised. To avoid the risk of overwhipping, when almost stiff enough, remove the beaters and use them, or a whisk, to finish whipping by hand. Immediately swirl the cream into the depression on top of the cake. If making a second layer fill and frost the entire cake with the whipped cream. If desired, sprinkle with the extra chopped pecans. The cake can be refrigerated overnight and will keep at room temperature for several hours.

Note: The gelatin will keep the whipped cream from watering out on standing.

Conversations with Dédé: The Golden Chiffon

The Renée Fleming Golden ChiffonGolden_Chiffon.jpg Dédé has written another engaging story about the cake from The Baking Bible which I dedicated to the glorious opera singer Renée Fleming. Click on this link for the story and also the recipe. Renée Fleming just sent Woody and me each a disc of her latest release Christmas in New York along with a lovely note. IMG_7369.jpg

Apple Walnut Muffins: A Highlight of the Apple Season

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During our stay in August at the Maplestone Inn Bed and Breakfast, near New Paltz, New York, we enjoyed these marvelous muffins made by inn keeper Patte Roche. What we loved most about the muffins was the exceptionally large amount of diced apples suspended in them, in fact, there were more apples than batter. When Patty sent us the recipe, we were surprised to see that the apples supply the liquid in the batter. We adapted the recipe slightly to make 12 instead of the original 10 and we used clarified butter instead of oil as we love the flavor of butter. We clarified the butter to avoid adding extra moisture to the batter as the apples provide just the right amount. If you prefer to use oil, see note below.

Makes 12

Special Equipment One 12 cup muffin pan (preferably non stick), lightly coated with non stick cooking spray; Optional: number 30 (2 inch diameter) ice cream scoop

Batter Makes 31.7 ounces/900 grams

Preheat oven to 375°F/190°C

Bake 25  to 35 minutes

Makes:  A 1-3/4 inch high cake

The Batter

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Preheat the Oven Twenty minutes or more before baking, set an oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C.

Clarify the Butter Have ready a fine-mesh strainer suspended over a 1-cup glass measure with a spout. In a small heavy saucepan, on very low heat, melt the butter. Raise the heat to low and cook uncovered, watching carefully to prevent burning. Move away any foam on the surface to check the progress. As soon as the milk solids resting on on the bottom, immediately pour the butter through the strainer into the glass measure, scraping the solids into the strainer. Measure or weigh 6 tablespoons/89 ml/2.5 ounces/72 grams. Allow it to cool to warm to the touch or room temperature but still liquid. WE USED 67 which is 5 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons
 

Mix the Dry Ingredients In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Chop or break the walnuts into medium-coarse pieces and add them to the flour mixture. Whisk to combine.
Prepare the Chopped Apples Just before mixing the batter, peel, core, and dice the apples into 1/8 to 1/4 inch pieces. Place them in a large bowl.

Make the Batter Add the egg and yolk to the apples. With a silicone spatula, stir and fold them to coat the apples. Add the sugar and clarified butter and stir into the apple and egg mixture. Allow the mixture to sit for 10 minutes so that the apples start exuding a little liquid. Stir in the dry ingredients until well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. The batter will be thick and slightly dry. Use the optional cookie scoop or a large spoon to place the batter (2.6 ounces/75 grams) into each of the prepared muffin cups. The batter will fill each muffin cup nearly to its top.

Bake the Muffins Bake 25 to 35 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean, and the tops of the muffins feel crisp and are browned. (An instant-read thermometer should read around 210°F/99ºC.)

Cool the Muffins Cool the muffins in the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Invert the muffins onto a wire rack and remove the pan. Gently dislodge any muffins that may have stuck. Reinvert the muffins on the wire rack. Cool completely.

Store Room temperature, 1 day; refrigerated, 3 days.

Note Canola or safflower can be substituted for the clarified butter. Use 6 tablespoons/89ml/2.8 ounces/81 grams.
Highlights for Success The muffins are best when served soon after you make them or reheated for about 5 minutes (15 minutes if frozen) in a preheated 350˚F/175˚C so that the tops become crisp. (The large amount of apples can make the muffins to become too moist on storage, especially if they are put in a closed container.)

A Fellow Baker's First Book!

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At long last, Joanne Chang of Flour Bakery in Boston, Ma. has written her long awaited book Flour featuring recipes from her bakery and café. I met Joanne many years ago when I was in Boston touring for one of my books. I fell in love with her bakery and was enchanted by her as well! In fact, on my next book tour, I chose Flour Bakery as the location in which to do a radio broadcast. The station had requested a bakery so that they could have bakery-like sounds in the background! Joanne and I come from a suprisingly similar dessert background. She grew up in a traditional Chinese household and, as she writes: "rarely had the chance to indulge my sweet tooth." I grew up in a traditional Jewish household but with a nontraditional mother who had been the only woman in her entire dental school. I also rarely had the chance to indulge my sweet tooth. Joanne and I also share a passion, not just for baking, but also for analytical thinking and precision. (Unlike Joanne, however, I do not have the advantage of a degree in applied mathematics and it does not come naturally to me so I have to struggle and work hard to get all those numbers I include in my books to be accurate!) I was struck immediately by the physcial appearance of the book. It is an upscale four color production, with stiched binding (so it will not come apart!) but instead of a paper dust jacket, it has a far more durable laminated hard cover, aka case, with beautiful colored photos printed directly on it. I suspect this will be the future of cookbook publishing as it will stand up better to frequent use, for which this book is surely destined. Joanne's writing style is very appealing. It is both succinct, informative, and entertaining. She has her own confident voice which reflects her knowledge, expertise, and enjoyment of her baking profession. And how has she dealt with the tricky volume/weight issue? As a professional baker there was no way she was going to eliminate weight, but when writing for the general public, not all of whom have as yet gotten on the much beloved by me scale bandwagon, she had to include volume. So volume comes first and in parenthesis comes the weight but only in grams. Now that scales so easily switch between ounces and grams there really is no need for both and we professional bakers all prefer grams. I'm really tempted to do the same in my next book except that when purchasing certain items such as butter, it's somehow easier to go by ounces and my readers have, by now, become accustomed to the charts that so readily accomodate all three systems. The book has many enticing full page color photos such as the exquisite Black Sesame Lace Cookies which I know I will try in the near future. Also dear to my heart are the well-thought out and beautifully organized sections on technique, equipment, ingredients, and tips. Now on to the recipes! There are many I plan to try, including one acknowledged to be adapted from my Sourcream Coffee Cake (I'm dying to see how adding crème fraîche instead of sourcream enhances the cake) but the first one that called my name was the French Lemon Poppy Pound Cake. The Lemon Poppyseed Pound Cake in the Cake Bible was my signature cake so I was most curious to see what François Payard's take on it would be like. Joanne worked in his bakery and credits him with this recipe and all important technique but admits to having tweaked the ingredients. She generously has allowed me to print the recipe here:

French Lemon-Poppy Pound Cake Makes one 9-inch loaf Pound cakes are traditionally made with a pound of butter, a pound of flour, a pound of sugar, and a pound of eggs, hence the name. When properly made, the result is a dense, velvety cake with a tight crumb. But the key is knowing how to make it properly. I can't tell you the number of times I've attempted a classic pound cake recipe only to pull a tough, unimpressive loaf out of the oven. When I worked at Payard, I learned a new approach to making pound cakes that borrows a page from the genoise playbook. First, you whip eggs and sugar together until they are as light as a feather. Then, you gently fold in the flour and leavening agents. And finally, you whisk together melted butter and heavy cream and combine them, quickly and gently, with the batter. You end up with a cake with the warm, rich, buttery flavor and incredible texture you want. This is my favorite way to enjoy pound cake: laced with copious amounts of fresh lemon zest and nutty poppy seeds. 2 cups (240 grams) cake flour 3/4 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons (1 3/8 sticks/156 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to slightly warm 1/4 cup (60 grams) heavy cream, at room temperature 3 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest (about 2 lemons) 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon) 3 tablespoons poppy seeds/28 grams 4 eggs/200 grams 11/4 cups (250 grams) granulated sugar

Lemon Glaze 1/2 cup (70 grams) confectioners' sugar 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (1/2 to 1 lemon) Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan, or line the bottom and sides of the pan with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the butter, cream, lemon zest, lemon juice, and poppy seeds. The mixture should have the consistency of a thick liquid. If the butter hardens into little lumps, heat the mixture gently until the butter melts again. Set aside. Using a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment (or a handheld mixer), beat together the eggs and granulated sugar on medium speed for 4 to 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy and lemon colored. (If you use a handheld mixer, this same step will take 8 to 10 minutes.) Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the flour mixture into the egg-sugar mixture just until combined. Fold about one-fourth of the egg-flour mixture into the butter-cream mixture to lighten it. Then fold in the remaining egg-flour mixture just until thoroughly combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until the top of the cake is golden brown and springs back when you press it in the middle. (Note from Rose: In my oven I needed to tent it loosely with foil after the first 45 minutes of baking.) Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes. To make the lemon glaze: While the cake is cooling, in a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners' sugar and enough lemon juice to make an easily spreadable, smooth glaze. When the cake has cooled for at least 30 minutes, pop it out of the pan and place it on the rack. Spread or spoon the glaze over the top of the still-warm cake, letting the glaze dribble down the sides. The cake can be stored tightly wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature for to 3 days.

Same Recipe, Different Flavor Vanilla Bean Pound Cake: To make a fragrant vanilla pound cake, omit the lemon zest and juice and poppy seeds from the cake batter and leave off the lemon glaze. Split 1/2 vanilla bean lengthwise, and scrape the seeds from the pod into the butter-cream mixture. Whisk well to distribute the seeds evenly. Proceed as directed, then lightly dust the cake with confectioners' sugar just before serving.

Whipped Cream Cake

Maybe I should have called this cake "Where's the Butter?" because at first glance there appears to be no butter in it. In reality, the butterfat contained in the heavy cream is more than the butter usually added separately! As this seems to be, perhaps, the most popular of all the cakes in my newest book Rose's Heavenly Cakes I've decided to list the recipe on this blog for easy access.

Whipped Cream Cake

Serves: 8 to 10
Baking Time: 25 to 35 minutes

This unusual old-time recipe was sent to me by chef Anthony Stella, a restaurateur in Delaware, who asked if I could perform a makeover on it. What intrigued both of us about the recipe was that at first glace it seemed to contain no butter or oil. But on closer analysis, I discovered that the butterfat contained in the cream was more than equal to the usual amount of butter added.

My makeover involved a nip and tuck, decreasing the sugar and baking powder and increasing the salt to compensate for the saltiness previously provided by a higher amount of baking powder. I also increased the overall yield by one and a half times and baked the cake in a fluted tube pan to give it an attractive appearance and more center support. The result is a perfectly even and exceptionally moist and tender cake.

Batter Ingredients

Bleached Cake Flour or bleached all-purpose flour, sifted (2 1/4 cups cake flour or 2 cups all purpose--measured by sifting into the cup and leveling it off: 8 ounces/225 grams)
Baking powder (2 teaspoons)
Salt (3/4 teaspooon)
Heavy cream, cold (1-1/2 cups/12.3 ounces/348 grams)
3 large eggs, at room temperature (1/2 cup plus 1-1/2 tablespoons/5.3 ounces/150 grams)
Pure vanilla extract (1 teaspoon)
Superfine sugar (1 cup plus 2 tablespoons/8 ounces/225 grams)

Special Equipment One 10-cup fluted metal tube pan, coated with baking spray with flour

Preheat the Oven Twenty minutes or more before baking, set an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C (350°F/175°C if using a dark pan).

Make the Batter

Mix the Dry Ingredients In a medium bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt and then sift them together to make the mixture easier to incorporate.

Mix the Liquid Ingredients In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk beater, whip the cream, starting on low speed, gradually raising the speed to medium-high as it thickens, until stiff peaks form when the beater is raised. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs and vanilla just until lightly combined.

On medium-high speed, gradually beat the egg mixture into the whipped cream. The mixture will thicken into mayonnaise consistency (unless high-butterfat cream is used).

Gradually beat in the sugar. It should take about 30 seconds to incorporate it. [Here's a slight change in how I now incorporate the flour thanks to both Marie Wolf and Hector Wong commenting on the difficulty with a rubber or silicone spatula] Detach the bowl and whisk beater from the stand.

 Add half the flour mixture to the cream mixture and, with the whisk attachment stir and fold in the flour until most of it disappears. Add the rest of the flour mixture and continue folding and mixing until all traces of flour have disappeared. Using a silicone spatula or spoon, scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Run a small metal spatula or dull knife blade through the batter to prevent large air bubbles, avoiding the bottom of the pan. Smooth the surface evenly with a small metal spatula.

Bake the Cake Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted between the tube and the side comes out completely clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center. The cake should start to shrink from the sides of the pan only after removal from the oven.

Cool and Unmold the Cake Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. With a small metal spatula, loosen the top edges of the cake and invert the cake onto a wire rack that has been coated lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Cool completely.

The cake requires no adornment, but I love to serve it with a light dusting of powdered sugar or a large dollop of lightly sweetened Whipped Cream.

Notes: Do not chill the bowl and beaters for the heavy cream because the eggs will not emulsify as readily if the whipped cream is too cold. High-butterfat (40 percent) heavy cream produces a finer, more tender crumb. This cream is generally available only to bakeries and restaurants, but it is certainly worth asking your local baker to sell you a container.

Bubka Bliss

I first met fellow author and baking sister Marcy Goldman in Montreal during the IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals) annual conference. She had invited me out to her home for a visit along with two other bakers and it was an enchanting experience to be in her kitchen tasting the cakes she made for us as we all talked baking. She also presented me with a beautiful rolling pin of her design which I used yesterday to roll out the bubka from her new book A Passion for Baking. I am sitting here (having already eaten a piece for breakfast and I don't usually eat breakfast, trying to fight off the impulse to defrost a slice I stashed in the freezer to make just such a temptation less convenient. One of our fellow bloggers asked me what I thought of Marcy's bubka compared to the babka I had described in a previous posting. So of course I had to find out first hand even though I knew it was going to be wonderful--all the more so!

First let me explain the name bubka. In both Polish and Yiddish, babka is a diminutive of baba or babcha, meaning old woman or grandmother. When I was growing up, my grandmother described an old woman as an "alta bubba." No doubt Marcy's ancestors come from the same location in Russia near the Polish border (Minsk) as bubka seems to come from bubba. Come to think of it, maybe it was a distant village as my grandmother used the word bubka to describe little hard things that are undesirable as in "it's not worth bubkas"! But a bubka or babka by any other name will taste as sweet and this is a cake/bread that deserves all the attention and enthusiasm it gets.

According to the New York Times, my dear friend Arthur Schwartz, whose book Arthur Schwartz's Jewish Home Cooking is due to be published in April, writes that: ''Babka, in its original form, was stout and round, just like grandmothers used to be before they went to aerobics classes and practiced yoga.'' Now to Marcy's bubka itself. Compared to Anne Amernick's (to which I referred in the prior posting) it is less cakey and more bready, i.e. less tender and more chewy which I personally find more satisfying. This texture is mostly because it employs a combination of bread flour and unbleached all-purpose (I used Harvest King flour which is about the same protein percentage).

Marcy describes the recipe as "...it strikes the right notes of sweet and bready," and for me this resulted in the perfect balance between bread and cake. The dough is so lively it virtually bursts from the pan on baking. In fact, I would use a larger bread pan than the 9 x 5 recommended to keep it from spreading sideways as much. (My 9 x 5 pan is 7 cups but my All Clad 10 x 5 is 8 cups and I think that would be just perfect.) For those of you who weigh, I used 412 grams/almost 15 ounces of flour for half the dough.

To continue with the comparison, Marcy's bubka has less egg and butter but more water which makes it lighter and moister. In fact, it is quite similar to my kugelhopf but moister which I prefer! I also adore the brown sugar/almond paste in the filling. Some oozed out to form crunchy edges on the crust--confession--I who write in no uncertain terms to let the bread cool completely before cutting kept attacking this bubka to eat those crunchy edges until finally I could stand it no longer and cut a whole still hot slice and consumed it all!

In the process of making this bubka I have quite fallen in love with Marcy's new book A Passion for Baking along with Marcy herself! That is because she provides a real and personal presence in this book. Starting with the cover which shows her hand (and what is more eloquent or definitive of a baker than her hand) drawing a heart in the flour on the counter, you see the love she has for her craft. Right beneath it are the words: "Bake to celebrate . Bake to nourish . Bake for fun." Does this not say it all?! It reminded me of the visit to her home when she shared that before cleaning up her work counter she always drew a heart in the flour that remained on the surface. In fact, her son when he was only 12 took the photo that inspired this cover. It is the hand of a ballerina baker! Marcy dedicates this book to her sons: "...I love you more than words can say and far more than infinite fields of golden wheat. You are the gold of my heart." But anyone who opens this book will feel her love and generosity pouring out to all her fellow bakers as well, and in full measure. Note: Marcy generously is offering this recipe below. Do check out her site: www.betterbaking.com

Baker's Bubka With Crumb Topping

Bubka is pure heaven to me - because it strikes the right note of sweet and bready. It is also relatively easy to make - not as complicated as true Danish with its rolled in blocks of butter but certainly richer and moister than a sweet dough. I often use a bread machine to make the dough - although I have to give the mixing a hand at first by using a rubber spatula, just to get the rich dough properly going.

Dough 1 1/2 cups warm water (100˚ to 110˚ F) 2 tablespoons rapid-rise yeast 3 large eggs 2 yolks 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 1 teaspoon pure almond extract 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice 3/4 cup sugar 1 teaspoon salt 1/3 cup milk powder 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened 3 cups all-purpose flour 3 cups bread flour

Filling 1/4 cup unsalted butter 1 cup brown sugar 1/2 cup chopped almond paste 2 tablespoons corn syrup 2 teaspoons cinnamon 3/4 cup chopped almonds, optional

Egg Wash 1 egg, pinch sugar

Crumb Topping 4 tablespoons unsalted butter 1/2 cup scant confectioner's sugar 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Generously spray two 9 by 5 inch loaf pans with nonstick cooking spray. Line a double-up baking sheet with parchment paper. For an extra large bubka, use a 10-inch angel food cake pan, also sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Place the pans on the baking sheet.

In a mixer bowl, hand whisk the water and yeast together and let stand 2-3 minutes to dissolve the yeast. Briskly whisk in the eggs, egg yolks, vanilla, almond extract, lemon juice, sugar, salt, milk powder and all-purpose flour. Then stir in the butter and most of the bread flour.

Mix dough, then knead as it becomes a mass, with a dough hook or by hand for about eight to ten minutes, until smooth and elastic, adding in more bread flour as required. Remove dough hook and cover entire mixer and bowl with a large, clear plastic bag. Allow to rise, about 45-90 minutes until puffy or almost doubled in size. This is also an ideal dough to refrigerate overnight and resume next day, allowing dough to warm up a bit before proceeding. Whisk an egg in a small bowl for the egg wash.

For the Filling, in a food processor, process the butter, sugar, almond paste, corn syrup, cinnamon, and almonds to make a soft paste or filling.

For the Crumb Topping, in a small bowl, cut the butter, confectioner's sugar and flour together to make a crumbly topping. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and gently deflate the dough.

Divide dough in two portions. On a well-floured work surface, roll dough into a 16 inch square. Spread on the filling over dough surface. Roll up dough into a large jellyroll. Cut in half. Place both halves in prepared pan, beside each other - it doesn't matter if they are a little squished.

Brush well egg wash and sprinkle with some sugar. Repeat with remaining dough and filling. Spray the tops of both loaves with nonstick cooking spray. Place the pans on the prepared baking sheet and cover with the large, clear plastic bag. Let rise until the bubka is flush or a touch over the sides of the pan, 45-75 minutes. Brush with egg wash. Sprinkle with Crumb Topping.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake 40-50 minutes (55-70 minutes for one large bubka) until bubka is medium brown. Cool in pan fifteen minutes before removing to a rack or serving plate. Makes one large or two medium bubkas.